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Home / Technology / Google's algorithms keep us in a political bubble, studying findings

Google's algorithms keep us in a political bubble, studying findings



Whether you know it or not, you probably live in a bubble. As far as the internet is concerned, at least.

Your internet search result may look very different depending on your political views and other cultural interests. Searching for hot button political topics such as "gun control", "immigration" and "vaccination" provide very different results, depending on your search history, according to a study by the privacy firm and Google rival DuckDuckGo, released Tuesday.

The study examined the results of different users looking for the same terms and found that they varied widely. Upon searching the term "gun control", a participant saw the pro-gun organization National Rifle Association in the best news results, while another did not get any results, including NRA. Two were served pages from Wikipedia.org as the first or second result, while no Wikipedia links appeared in the first nine results.

Undecided and curious voters turn to search engines to perform basic research on candidates and problems. & # 39;


-DuckDuckGo report

Draft Quote: "Undecided and curious voters go to search engines to perform basic research on candidates and problems." -DuckDuckGo Report

DuckDuckGo researchers said this bubble could be "particularly harmful" when searching for political topics. "It's because undecided and curious voters focus on search engines to carry out basic research on candidates and issues in the critical times when they make their opinions about it," the study says. "If they get information that is sweated to one side because of their personal filter bubbles, this can have a significant impact on the policy outcomes overall. "

Google

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and other technical platforms, including Facebook

FB, -2.24%

has been investigated in light of the 201

6 choice of how their algorithms order results and isolate people with similar-minded views.

In August, President Donald Trump managed to complain that Google is against Republicans, clearly commenting on a story that CNN and other so-called "liberal" media sold out dominated the top search results when the word "Trump" is Googled.

In the survey, DuckDuckGo examined results for 87 participants, including 76 on desktop and 11 on mobile, and 92% of users looked unique or results ranging from person to person at Googling vaccinations, 63% of such unique results when Googling " immigration, "and 59% of such unique results when Googling" gun control. "

The percentages were comparable even when the user searched in" incognito mode ", which does not collect user data. The study was limited to the United States to avoid different search indices in different countries.

Google said tracking is just part of history

A Google spokeswoman told MarketWatch personal information called the results "wrong" and that tracking or customization is not the only reason for different search results. She said changes in placement or seconds between searches could affect the results and their order. Google said that it does not personalize "Top Stories" in Search or Content in the News category in Search.

However, DuckDuckGo researchers claim to have checked this and found themselves when people searched at the same time, they got different results. 19659017] Changes in placement or seconds between searches may affect the results and their order.


-Google spokeswoman

Consumer reader Christopher Elliott called the results "deeply worrying" for consumers. "I think it was already known that the search results were manipulated," he said. "But this study shows that you can not escape these results even if you are in" incognito mode. " ""

Incognito mode is the private browser window Google offers users browsing online without tracking. The study found that the incognito results were as varied as those in regular search, suggesting that Google reportedly also tailored these results.

"People should not lulled to a false sense of security as the so-called" incognito "mode makes them anonymous, the study says.

Jennifer Golbeck, professor of the University of Maryland's College of Information Studies, said that in some ways these processes are designed to enhance the user experience, but that does not mean they can not be harmful.

"On the one hand, these algorithms are driven by what we click and scroll by – they show people how it looks like they will see, "she said." On the other hand, this can hide a lot of information that we may not even know about. "

Here are ways to limit your own" bubble "

1. Try another browser where you not logged in to Google. Repeat your searches and compare results.

2. If you do not want your results personal, you can search without logging in to Google or Chrome. There may still be some filtering, but is more limited.

3. Pr v another search engine. DuckDuckGo or a VPN to hide your location is an option that says that they do not track users or use the search history in this way.

4. On Google, go to Settings – Advanced – Privacy and Security, you can "Clear Browsing Data" and prevent Google from collecting your browsing history.

5. You can choose a "non-tracking" request when browsing the web, requesting businesses not to keep your data when you visit their websites.

5. Download a reliable extension like PrivacyBadger, offered by the Privacy Nonprofit Electronic Frontier Foundation, to further limit the amount of data held on you.

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